Finding Your Voice

July 22, 2017

Daniel Rashid, actor/writer and recent USC graduate, navigates life as a post-grad artist in Los Angeles. This is the first installment of a periodic series of blogs about life after college for young theatre artists. 

“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.” -Miles Davis

There is a certain feeling upon graduating from college that you should have everything figured out. You studied four years and passed the “adult test,” so now it’s time to be a fully functioning adult without any flaws!

This couldn’t be more wrong, of course, but I would be lying to say I didn’t feel like I needed to have it all together once I graduated. There was this pressure — which was probably self-generated for the most part — to not only have my personal life in order, but to also have my artistic voice in order. I spent four years studying theatre, so I should know what the heck I’m doing, right?

Then I came upon this quote from Miles Davis, one of the greatest musicians of all time. His influence on this planet is vast. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Like I said. VAST.

I came across this quote at a time when I was doubting my ability as both an actor and a writer. I couldn’t seem to create from an authentic place. In my acting, I was trying to “put on” the characters I was playing instead of simply being them. And in my writing, I found myself doubting that my point of view was valid or “interesting.” Instead of trusting that I am enough, I felt like I needed to compensate for my flaws.

And maybe that’s the crux of it. We look up to our idols and at times they seem flawless. When Meryl Streep is doing her thing, it’s captivating. When Shakespeare is done well, there is nothing like it. We look up to these people because we strive to be of their caliber, but what we often fail to recognize is that they too struggle. They too have their flaws.

I feel like part of growing up is realizing that no one has it all together—whatever “it” is. We’re all making it up as we go, even our idols. Just like us, they’re trying to find their way (and their voice) in this crazy world. And it’s not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It takes daily work and a whole lot of patience. Just ask Miles Davis.

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